MMG LXML Sepon (LXML), in partnership with the Lao Ministry of Defence, NRA, and UXO Lao, is improving UXO clearance standards in the Lao PDR by enhancing the capacity of Lao UXO technicians.
LXML sponsored the 5th National Regulatory Authority (NRA) Senior Explosive Ordnance Disposal (SEOD) Course, which opened yesterday in Vientiane. The course aims to build capacity for Lao Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) technicians to attain the highest internationally recognised qualifications and experience in UXO clearance techniques.
Lao PDR is the most heavily bombed country, per capita, in the world. Approximately 260 million bombs were dropped on the country between 1964 and 1973. Of these, some 80 million did not explode, leaving a deadly UXO legacy. UXO continues to claim lives and cause injuries in the Lao PDR.
"We are working closely with donors and private sector partners to establish a pool of qualified Lao UXO clearance technicians to achieve our objectives," said Mr. Phoukhieo Chanthasomboune, NRA Director.
"At MMG, we mine to create wealth for our people, host communities and shareholders," said Mr. Suresh Vadnagra, General Manager of MMG LXML Sepon. "UXO clearance is an essential activity in the mining cycle. At the same time, it improves the living conditions of our communities by making them safer and by removing obstacles to development."
Since operations commenced at Sepon, LXML has cleared more than 2,900 hectares of land, destroying over 45,000 items of unexploded ordnance. In the UXO team, LXML employs more than 180 full-time and 300 temporary workers from Vilabouly District, as well as a further 50 full-time Lao supervisory experts.
MMG’s cooperation with NRA and UXO Lao builds on an existing agreement with the Lao Ministry of Defence, as part of MMG’s contribution to building a safe path forward for development in the Lao PDR. It is an example of a successful partnership in building Lao capability to reduce the UXO problem. LXML also provides support to the Cooperative Orthotic and Prosthetic Enterprise (COPE) in Vientiane, which provides rehabilitation services to UXO survivors and others.
Mr. Suresh Vadnagra, General Manager of MMG LXML Sepon (left) and Mr. Phoukhieo Chanthasomboune, NRA Director. (Photo: © MMG/Chanmy Sisomphone)